Celebrating life

One mother shares the joy of being a mom to a child with Down’s syndrome
By Lauren Schoeman

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When my son Nicholas was born with Down’s syndrome, it was a huge shock. I hadn’t ticked any of the boxes – I was 32 when I fell pregnant, my 12-week blood test for Down’s syndrome screening was clear and the nuchal fold was within normal range. No-one chooses to have a special needs child. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but I’m glad I didn’t. My little boy is just amazing. I’m so grateful every day that he’s in our lives and I’m very privileged to be his mom. I know that Nicholas is going to make a difference in the world. He has already changed so many people’s perceptions of what it means to be “normal”. His two older brothers (aged six and four years old) are absolutely besotted with him and he, in turn, just lights up when they’re around. I know that his brothers are going to grow up to be caring, compassionate men as a result.
 
I’m not saying that having a Down’s syndrome child isn’t without challenges. Nicholas can’t be cured of his intellectual disability. But with early intervention, lots of love and encouragement, all Down’s syndrome children can achieve their full potential. Every milestone needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.
 
The Down’s syndrome community that I’ve come to know is a very welcoming, embracing family. Parents are so supportive and their words of encouragement can come from the other side of the world. Ask any parent of a Down’s syndrome child if their young one brings them joy and the answer will always be yes. Ask them if they regret having the child in their life and as a member of their family, and the answer will always be no.
 
As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but many expectant parents find out the diagnosis halfway through their pregnancy. Sadly, it’s almost expected that they’ll choose to terminate, and this is often the advice of their doctor. Possibly due to fear of the unknown or a lack of knowledge, these parents decide not to keep the baby. Everyone has a right to choose, but expectant parents need to know that a Down’s syndrome diagnosis is NOT a death sentence. These children can grow up to be happy, self-sufficient adults who live long, fulfilling lives. They are an asset to society and should be included, just like everyone else. Thankfully, the days are over where they are automatically institutionalised, labelled as hopeless and never thought of again. There is a huge drive to incorporate Down’s syndrome children into mainstream schools. With the correct guidance, it’s proving to be successful.

Comments

Rochell Serdyn wrote 3 years 31 weeks ago

Your letter really touched me. You are so positive. I am sure you are doing a wonderful job despite all the challenges. Keep up the good work. Best wishes for your family.

Anonymous wrote 5 years 2 weeks ago

He's absolutely gorgeous! He's indeed a BLESSING.

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